New Delhi: Although starkly different entities, the fates and trajectories of the Congress party and the information technology company, Infosys, seem to match, and it is bad news for both of them. The rupee has been bludgeoned and battered under Sonia Gandhi’s United Progressive Alliance regime and the exodus of top executives since Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy returned to Infosys has plunged market confidence in the firm. Infosys and the Congress party suffer from dynastic rule, and it will only be downhill for them on the present course.

Infosys and its founders like Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani could see their labours create a great company in the 1990s because of the economic reforms initiated by the then prime minister, P.V.Narasimha Rao. The license-permit-quota raj was repulsed some and genuine entrepreneurs with no industrial background or backing and limited capital got a level-playing field. Infosys was a product of those times. Its promoters were clean. They were technocrats with a vision and zeal to showcase India’s potential and promise. And they were assisted by the environment enabled by an administration which was the only truly full-term non-dynastic Congress government since independence. This is surely a case study for business journalists.

But compare the present troubles of Infosys and the Congress party-helmed Manmohan Singh government to their exciting non-dynastic past, and you realize where the trouble lies. But it may be easier to correct the situation with Infosys than with the Congress party, which under the Nehru-Gandhis is headed for doom.

Infosys’s problems commenced prior to Narayana Murthy’s re-entrance. Because Infosys was slipping, Murthy was recalled. Business enterprises have their ups and downs. This is not unusual. Everything moves in cycles and markets and businesses cannot be exceptions. But it is how you overcome the lows that is important, and this separates the great companies from pretenders.

Even someone as far removed from the financial world as this writer was appalled when Kundapur Vaman Kamath was brought to Infosys by Narayana Murthy. There was no visible synergy between Kamath and Infosys and Kamath had, at best, a dodgy record in ICICI Bank. Then the obstinate insistence on the founders’ rotational leadership in the face of tectonic changes in the information technology business where the old models were proving increasingly unworkable neither reflected modern thinking nor did it improve Infosys’ bottom-line.

Possibly Infosys panicked and pressed on Murthy’s return. It is not unknown that founders have been summoned back from retirement to stabilize companies. But it is in dispute if Murthy can succeed a second time. Even giving him the benefit of doubt, the going got tough when against in-house, industry and market sentiments, he brought his son, Rohan, along. There is no father who doesn’t think his son to be brilliant. Or a mother, for that matter. Look at Sonia, who doubtless considers Rahul Gandhi to be God’s greatest gift to mankind and a genius to boot. Rohan Murthy may be good. He has the qualifications, certainly. But there was no call to place him at the near-top of the pyramid. Without the famous Murthy surname, would he have got that opportunity? No. Now there is talk to make him vice-president. The markets are horrified. They may finally be writing off this dynastic company.

A similar fate is in store for the Congress party. Purely to meet dynastic ends, Sonia Gandhi chose a powerless prime minister. Cabinet ministers strictly owed their jobs to her. They could loot the country. No problem. So long they were loyal to her, aided her to keep the flag of the dynasty flying, and serviced her with all that power procures and secures, she had no grievances. Does the collapsed economy make any difference to Sonia Gandhi or her son? Perish the thought. The falling rupee? Who cares? 10 Janpath would only feel the heat when retaining power looks impossible. It is the case of the frog and the water slowly coming to boil.

At least top executives of Infosys could jump ship. What or where is the refuge for the ministers of Sonia who want to desert? In desperation, they rally around her, expecting a miracle. Their faces fell when she was briefly taken unwell. But miracles don’t happen. The Congress cannot remain together without the Nehru-Gandhis, but they are proving to be deadweight at the same time. Infosys without the Murthys has a chance if it returns to the dare and dynamism of the 1990s. One desiderates, likewise, a second Narasimha Rao in the Congress, but the dynasty and its death wish have become overpowering.